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A couple of Halifax commuters trafficked in anger and frustration that spilled over into accusations of racist comments Tuesday morning.
“I was just shocked,” Ami Goto, who co-owns Kitsune Food Company, a small Japanese restaurant on Young Street in Halifax, said of an encounter that began with a merger onto Highway 103 and followed onto the 102 and Bayers Road.
“I am always aware when people are coming really close,” Goto said. “He aggressively passed and I gave him the finger.”
The other driver, a man in his 50s named Paul who preferred his surname not be used, said he was merging onto the 103 behind Goto and her partner, Eric McIntyre, but she did not speed up anywhere near to highway speed.
“We were entering the highway and I was behind these people and they were doing like 65 kilometres,” Paul said. “After I passed them, they started flipping me the bird. I was like why are you throwing me the finger.”
Paul said he decided to find out and at a merge onto the 102 and also at a traffic light leading to a city street, he got out of his BMW and walked back to the Toyota Matrix driven by Goto to question her.
“He came out and came to our window and said ‘you have no right to give the finger,’” said Goto, who is originally from Japan. “I said I’m sorry that I gave you the finger but you are driving really dangerous.”
Goto said Paul was videotaping them when he got out of his vehicle at the traffic light and finished off his criticisms by saying, “maybe, it’s just an Asian thing.”
Today, while driving to work, we merged onto the highway and a blue BMW drove up super super close to us, then recklessly passed us. We gave the driver the finger, he then proceeded to stop his luxury car In The middle of the highway. He then got out of the car and began screaming at us. We drove around him and he passed us again and did the same thing, yelling we were going to slow. Once again we drove away. As we got off the highway and to the intersection he left his car and walked up to ours, said, " your on Facebook live" we told him he was driving dangerous and he kept arguing. I took out my camera and he proceeded to say to Ami " maybe it's an Asian thing" before running back to his BMW. ????WTF!!!!!Posted by Eric McIntyre on Tuesday, November 20, 2018
McIntyre also videotaped the confrontation at the traffic light and his description of the incident and the videotaped “Asian thing,” comment took off with his Facebook post.
“I made a flip comment and all of a sudden I’ve been bombarded all day long with I’m a racist, that I’m entitled,” Paul said of the dozens of Facebook comments. “I bought that car because my mother died and left me some money. ... I am not entitled by any stretch of the imagination. I sometimes live paycheque to paycheque like everybody else.”
He said people have gone to his company website on Facebook and have labelled him a racist and urged others not deal with the company.
“It is so far out of control. Social media is destroying people’s reputations.
“Perhaps my comment was uncalled for. I don’t think what I said was fair. I don’t think giving someone the finger because they passed you is appropriate either. Hundreds of people have been messaging saying what a horrible person I am, that my business should be closed up ... all of these horrible things about me and none of these people know me.”
Goto, 41, has lived in Halifax for two decades. She said the Asian comment shocked her.
“It’s not the first time that I got a little comment about my race but this is kind of from out of nowhere,” she said. “I was already shocked about how angry he was. It’s not right. It makes me super sad more than anything. I didn’t get angry, really sad that this man in his 50s, he obviously has money, he has a job but there is no morals. That makes me really sad.”
Goto and McIntyre had just returned from a trip to Japan.
“I’m having a hard time about missing home and this happens, and I’m like uggh, extra. We have a lot of great friends who are tyring to say the right things.”
Paul said he’s apologetic about the Asian comment.
“I am not a racist and everyone wants to do whatever they can to destroy me because they think I am,” he said.
He said he did nothing wrong in traffic, that he wasn’t tailgating and that he signalled to pass and move back into the right-hand lane.
“I’ve had conversations with police officers and they’ve told me that one of the risks that they have is that people are not speeding up to highway speeds and they are obstructing traffic and, in some cases, causing accidents,” he said.
“I didn’t do anything wrong up until the comment. My opinion is biased because I am giving my side. Theirs will be the same. I take responsibility for what I said. It wasn’t right. ... I am frustrated that people would take this incident and totally brand me as a racist without even knowing me.”
Goto insisted that she didn’t do anything wrong, either.
“Twenty years, I have been driving here. I didn’t do anything wrong. I am not a slow driver. It is not right.”